Artwork by Jim Zola
What Grief is Like
You say grief is like sleeping
under water, or like
the arithmetic of trees.
It is bigger than a breadbox.
It’s like the first time you were stoned.
Each step you took from the playground
tunnel to the safe harbor
of a girl friend’s front porch,
you observed the planet
rotate beneath tattered Keds.
There is life where we can’t see.
It’s like a smoothed pebble
you carry in your pocket
just to touch, to hold onto.
The night has silky legs and arms,
tattooed, smokes thin cigarettes,
puffs into a loom of branches,
the cherry tree my brother rammed
with his car the day his dog died.
He drove an old Dodge Dart with push button
transmission, slowly from the street up
and over the curb. Even at that speed,
it’s amazing what damage can be done,
glass and chrome all over. For years
when the sun first came up, the front yard
would sparkle from the tiny glass bits left behind.
The dog was a mutt, smart and loving.
A benji dog with short curly hair
the color of caramel. The vet diagnosed her
with cancer, recommended chemo. Father
laughed and said yeah right, and who’s paying?
The dog lasted about 6 months after that.
The last few weeks were miserable for everyone.
She stopped eating even when tempted with raw
meat laced with painkillers and vitamins.
When the doctors found cancer cells
in father’s colon, my brother drove him
to the hospital each day. I imagine these rides,
father smoking, brother messing with
the radio, father clutching the seat
as the car swerves to miss a cat
dashing across the street
into the dark loving woods.
The Body’s Hum
I’m a tick adrift in pin grass waiting for you
to brush close enough to give me passage.
I’m in metaphase along the equatorial plane
of your spindle, an ice needle eager to melt
in your tangled mess. I’m a fence lizard
semaphoring love with my third eyelid,
the twinge in your inner thigh, the must
in your marrow. I’m the gravel bit lodged
in the sole of your shoe, the hinge of your limp,
the ring in your ear, the message commingled,
the body’s hum.
Jim Zola has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for Deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher Price, and currently as a children’s librarian. Published in many journals through the years, his publications include a chapbook — The One Hundred Bones of Weather (Blue Pitcher Press) — and a full length poetry collection — What Glorious Possibilities (Aldrich Press). He currently lives in Greensboro, NC.
To order your copy of What Glorious Possibilities, via Amazon, click here.